Many employees wonder if they can receive workers’ compensation if they are hurt at home. Employers could see an increase in workers’ compensation claims even with employees working from home. According to a recent article, “45% – 50% (60-70 million Americans), may try to telecommute during the coronavirus emergency” (Krause, 2020). This is a dramatic increase from 2017-2018 where 29% of workers had the option to work remotely part-time.
There are several worksite hazards that are normally covered that may pose a threat at home. Some examples are objects, wires, or exposed cords. Any employer who is offering telecommuting or having employees work from home for the first time should provide training on workplace safety at home. Employers can do so by offering telecommuting safety checklists for employees. It is important to follow these guidelines as an employer not only to lessen workers’ compensation claims but to ensure your employees are staying safe and healthy at home. Employers should think of certain things their employees may need to be productive for when they are working from home such as computers, internet connectivity or other equipment.
How do I figure out if a case is work-related when the employee is working from home?
OSHA states that injuries and or illnesses that occur while an employee is working from home will be considered work-related if the injury/illness happens while the employee is operating for pay in the home, and the injury/illness is directly related to the performance of work versus the general setting they are in.
An example of an injury being work-related:
- An employee drops a box of work-related documents and injures his or her foot.
An example of an injury NOT being work-related:
- An employee is injured because he or she was running to the phone to answer a work phone call and tripped on a child’s toy.
- A worker was electrocuted due to faulty wiring at his home.
Does my company need a telecommuting policy?
Organizations should have telecommuting policies. Amidst the current coronavirus pandemic, companies may want to update their current policies, especially if their employees are working from home. Management teams of businesses should do the following:
- Be clear when communicating which positions may work from home.
- Set employee accountability guidelines.
- Tell employees who they should report to when they have specific questions about different topics.
- Notify employees on who to inform when they start to experience symptoms.
- Remind workers how to protect their data (be mindful of hackers and phishing attacks).
- Make sure computers and applications use secure authentication.
For more information on how employees can ensure their work-from-home environment is safe, visit the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
Above all, OSHA has offered several checklists on how to plan for a safe remote work environment here. Working from home during a pandemic is unusual and stressful. With proper planning and collaboration, employers and employees can help their organizations stay in business.